The spirits are high in West London at the moment. Chelsea have won their opening six games in the Premier League, most recently thumping Tottenham Hotspur 3-0. They have kick-started their European campaign with a win over F.C. Porto. All-in-all things are looking bright.
This Wednesday, they take on Queens Park Rangers at the Bridge in the Carling Cup. Since this is an early third round match against a lower league opposition, who are in 12th place in the Coca Cola Championship, most of us may expect this to be a comfortable win for the Blues, and might not realise the importance of this match.
This game is important because it will most probably see Joe Cole return to the starting line-up after an eight month injury lay-off. It is a massive boost to the Blues' hopes of fighting on four fronts this season. Having recovered from injury, he feels almost like a new signing.
The fans will be thrilled to have him back. His pace and dribbling, which are key features of his game, will add another dimension to the Blues' attack.
Pretty much the same can be said about Yuri Zhirkov, the difference being that Cole feels like a new signing, whereas Zhirkov actually is a new signing. He too is expected to play on Wednesday night.
Both these players will add width to the Chelsea attack, something that has sorely been missed in Carlo Ancelotti's formation so far. It will, thus, be interesting to see how they fit in the midfield diamond.
Cole is expected to play on the tip of the diamond, but I personally prefer him out wide on the right side. As for Zhirkov, it's quite obvious he'll be on the left wing. Thus, this game will allow Ancelotti to experiment.
The return of these two isn't the only reason this match is so important. It will also see chances for the younger players to show their potential.
That means that we might see the likes of Fabio Borini, Sam Hutchinson, Daniel Sturridge and Jeffrey Bruma feature.
I will, in fact, quote Ray Wilkins. He told www.chelseafc.com:
'They are all players that have impressed Carlo, he has watched the majority of reserve games since he has been here. It gives us an opportunity to bring these young men in and hopefully use them later in the season.
'If we progress in the Carling Cup then I am sure we will see a large number of these players used. [The transfer ban] is a great opportunity, and we will appeal against the ban, but it is a great opportunity for the young players to push themselves forward so the manager can see.'
They are our own academy players. And so, this is great to know. This way, we are finally taking that extra step towards nurturing our own talent. They will, hopefully in the future, be first teamers, and thus must be exposed to what the expectations are.
Fabio Borini will be crucial this term, especially during the African Cup Of Nations, when Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou jet off to their continent. And though the transfer window will be open around the time, we can at best get players on loan.
I saw him on YouTube and realised why Carletto was so eager to give this fellow a run in the first team. He's a natural finisher, and with some playing time, could become key member of the side.
The latest news I receive right now is that Daniel Sturridge won't play due to a slight calf problem. Regulars Bosingwa, Carvalho, Drogba and Anelka are all likely to be rested, while Paulo Ferreira will feature.
This means that reserves players may even start the game.
So, I think I am right in believing that this match is of quite importance, and this importance can't be undermined. By the end of it, we will have gotten a lot of answers we Blues fans have been waiting for.
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